The A—Z of festive mirth


BEING JOHNNY VEGAS Gilded Balloon, until 27 Aug, 10.15pm 00.0

It could only happen during a Johnny Vegas gig. You leave the auditorium while he’s still on stage, slow-dancing and smooching with the drunken heckler who’s been haranguing him all night. And that’s almost fifteen minutes after it’s scheduled to finish and you’ve already been conga-ing around the room to his shrieking of ‘Club Tropicana’ and high-kicking to an impromptu version of ‘New York, New York’.

Where does the show end exactly, and does Johnny Vegas ever stop being Johnny Vegas? Okay so he’s sold out his run, mainly on the back of a couple of adverts with a knitted puppet, and squeezing everyone inside is a near-military operation. But as he staggers on stage, Guinness in hand, dressed only in a pair of painfully tight trousers and a safari jacket, he confides that he doesn’t have a show, or that he did have until The Guardian came in and ripped it apart.

Being Johnny Vegas was supposed to be about Johnny laying bare his soul, letting us in on his fragile psyche and detailing his never-ending personal torment. What you get is a mixture of sob stories, audience-baiting and whimsical singalongs. Probably.

The front row takes the brunt of his mauling and within minutes he’s got two single people snogging, a girl kissing his nipple, and tearing strips off a guy with a broken arm. His victim of choice for the evening was the inebriated girl in the front row, dishing out his most cutting of remarks: ‘Why is it that the dullest of flowers attracts the busiest of bees’, ‘How did you get so drunk? Or is it heroin?’, ‘Who sent you? Noble? Kitson?’ Welcome to the warped world of Johnny Vegas. Leave your dignity at the door and prepare for a full-on exhilarating onslaught.

He shamelessly flouts the contradiction between his


Pleasance, until 27 Aug, 8.45pm III.

Having been hyped to the hills just before Fringe 2000. you couldn't help but think that Ross Noble was trying to put off having his moment in the sun by deliberately holding something back (material. mainly). The reSUIt was a smattering of hellish reviews and an above-average walk-out count. You could say that the plan backfired.

For ten minutes he worked on stuff that yOu could vaguely describe as having been written, with the rest of his hour being a stream of back chat with the front row. as he desperately tried to find comedic links between the disparate members. This year, he's upped the scripted c0unt to around twenty minutes. which makes the incessant nonsense much easier to swallow. For when he is

“at J5?

He may reek of piss but he’s still comedy dynamite

pathetic stories and his over-inflated, all-absorbing ego. The stag in the front row could have been more like him; married men will never experience the pleasures of tea tree oil shampoo, his looks were wasted by Butlins, and he reeks of piss.

This man is dynamite; a volatile, temperamental, human fireball, bereft of any social graces, thrusting his unpredictable drunken philosophising in your face and we lap it up hungrily. He is the finished article. Who else would bellow ‘Stand By Your Man’ under a shower of coins that he’s asked the audience to throw on stage? (most of which are aimed straight for his head). The only chink in his armour is inconsistency; you swing from convulsive laughter to tedium in seconds, but then another five minutes of his unadulterated comedy genius is compensation enough.

And then you go home, sated, mulling over what you’ve just witnessed, glad there were no broken bones, glad you’re not Johnny Vegas tomorrow morning. (Maureen Ellis)


Noble wins the peace of nonsense prize

0n form with both, he can be electric. Ross Noble is a freewheeling whirlwmd where the mind is working faster and Wilder than the mouth. so any notion that he maybe should think before he speaks is utterly alien. The switch between the rambling and the written could be smoother but the killer skits about sombreros may one day form the

backbone of a Noble comedy masterclass.

And he has a very big thing about his hair. Last year. he was keen to play up his resemblance to the lllll‘ZlIOf; of Fraggle Rock and this year. he flattens his black hair into a side parting and imagines drawrng on ; swirly moustache to become Mr Pringle. stalking the supermarket aisles and freaking out

customers whose hearts pop and then they stop. lhis is utter genius. and in Noble's hands becomes a ten-minute 10kt). v-rhen it could easily reach a punchline around the sixty second mark.

One day. hopefully not too far away. we WI” see Ross Noble firing on all his comedy cylinders. Vi’hen that gig comes. there wili be no one around to touch him. (Brian Donaldsoni

I Joan Rivers She can be a right old bitch when she wants to be. And that's what makes her so great. See feature. Festival Theatre, 24—27 Aug.

I Daniel Kitson Love. innocence and naughty words about male members in this queasy confessional. Pleasance, until 27 Aug. 7 0.30pm.

I Dom Irrera Another jolly Dom. This one performs old school American antics. But funny. See review. Gilded Balloon at Teviot, until 27 Aug, 70. 30pm.

I Otis Lee Crenshaw The Perrier winner returns with more tales of bourbon hell and trailer trash squalor. See review. Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug, 70. 75pm.

I Johnny Vegas Will you leave Johnny’s latest show with your soul intact? Or before it‘s finished. See review, left. Gilded Balloon, until 27 Aug, 70. 7 5pm. I Julia Morris Blissful ramblings as this Aussie plays Show And Tell. Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug, 9.30pm.

I Tommy Tiernan Galway's gigglemeister returns for his first Fringe dates since his Perrier- winning show two years ago. Pleasance, until 27 Aug,

7. 75pm.

I Rubbernecker Ricky Gervais introduces us to three stand-ups who may well be going places. See review. Cafe Royal. until 25 Aug, 5.45pm.

I Noble 8- Silver Situationist malarkey from a duo who will have you coming and going. Pleasance, until 27 Aug. 9.40pm.

I Big And Daft A mad Christmas show with very special guests. See review. Gilded Balloon at Teviot. until 27 Aug, 9pm.

;’;i Aug f3 80;) 9001 THE LIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 17